Tuesday, March 26, 2013


There is early morning Springtime sun straining through the wood blinds and slicing across my floor. The cat is asleep on my legs and I can hear Lainie and Jackson in the next room, eating cereal out of the box and watching Saturday morning cartoons, and I can hear music coming from somewhere in the house. Sometimes I feel like my whole life is made up of the places I’ve lived it in. The third story one bedroom apartment I rented with $400 and a fake I.D. when I was seventeen, with the balcony where we drank poorly mixed Vodka and cranberry juice and smoked too many cigarettes. There was music always playing and nothing in the fridge. I lived there alone but I was never alone there. Everyone had a key and it was never just my place, it was our place, until my dad moved in and it didn’t feel like anyone’s place anymore but his, so we all left. Then there was the overpriced, swanky two bedroom apartment in the gray brick building with a kitchen I wasn’t old enough to appreciate yet. I made toasted bagels and frozen pizza and I'm not even sure we owned salt and pepper shakers. We had no furniture and even less of an idea of how to decorate so it always looked empty. That was the first time I ever felt younger than anyone, but that was the youngest I ever got to be. I spent a lot of time then at an apartment in Scottsdale with a patio that over looked the park I used to play in as a kid and it felt like a weird mirror image. I lived there almost as much as I lived at home but I was never comfortable, and for some reason I was so thankful for the time someone else spilled Kool Aid all over the floor because it meant I wasn’t the only one who made mistakes. Still it wasn’t a home of mine, so eventually and without warning, I left for good. I moved out of the gray brick expensive apartment in the middle of the night, driving an old Chevy pickup to Ajo, Arizona, the winding road made darker by the heavy uncertainty about the future. I had already fallen out of love with the boy I was moving with and everytime he smiled at me in the blue light from the radio I wanted to disappear. The day after we arrived I got so sick I almost died and I took that as a sign that I didn’t belong there. Instead of making the best of it I languished through the afternoon heat in the trailer behind my boyfriend’s dad’s house, smoking and writing and restlessly sleeping. I was dreaming of Phoenix in the same way I used to dream of New York City when I was fourteen, and I could almost taste the feeling of being home again when I first woke up every morning. I wanted to go back so badly it made me crazy with rage and the nights were long, filled with circular fights about whose fault it was that we ended up here and why couldn’t we leave. When we finally did make it back to Phoenix, our only option was a three bedroom house with my dad again, and I knew this was a bad idea but I was hoping it would make my boyfriend want to move out and break up with me so I wouldn’t have to be responsible for his fractured heart and deteriorating mental faculties. It never happened, so once again I left instead and Jackson came along only a year later. When he was a baby, we moved around a lot. Starting out staying with that one friend from high school who was a Craigslist escort in secret, and then the other friend from high school before I got sick again, and then my sister and her husband where I forgot what dignity felt like the night that I begged my “brother” in law for our air mattress back. I finally got my shit back together enough to afford for the kids and I moved into a rundown historic house in The Willo that my dad wanted more than I did. The back of the house was sinking into the ground because the foundation was missing and I cried every day. When the air conditioning was replaced with a window swamp cooler in the middle of July, we ended up in a motel and my kids’ lives were turning out the way mine had started. It was a long and crazy summer before we got the condo on the western border of Tempe, where the pizza guy wouldn’t deliver to us and there was barefoot kids panhandling in their own front yards, but at least it wasn’t a motel. It was a house and it was clean and it was ours. In the time I lived there I witnessed the births of over 40 babies, caught two with my bare hands and briefly owned my own business.
Now there is our 1,500 square foot house in Chandler. There's coffee in the morning and writer's block at night. Bills and car payments and something more stable and adult than I ever imagined for myself. 
I decide that everything is transitory, everything moves, everything shifts and by the time I’m done living I won’t even remember all the homes that we have had. The ones that stand out will not be because they had the counter tops I liked or the carpet I had always wanted. They won’t stay with me because of the square footage or the neighborhood or even because they were technically hotels. They will be forever remembered because of the time in my life they represented, the people who filled them, and the people I have been along the way.


  1. Meant to comment on this earlier when I read it. This is amazing, and speaks to your strength and courage. Read that back to yourself and don't you ever have the nerve to tell yourself you aren't good enough or don't deserve a good life. You have accomplished so much, and you know what? You did it on your own. That's something to be proud of.